That cry will resonate the walls of Paul Auction Co of Kewaskum, Wisconsin January 15th and 16th 2011. 9am until???

In search of the enlightenment I believed only the most experienced bottle collectors could bestow, I have asked a few curators of very advanced Wisconsin antique bottle collections who I am or was close enough at the time to ask such a question, "What are you amassing all this stuff for,,, I mean, what happens to it all when you are done collecting?" No one has ever given me a substantive answer I can dig my fingers into and disseminate any real meaning. One said, my kids aren't interested and laughed, another simply avoided the question altogether, repeatedly. One of my favorite bottle collectors of all time told me he does not like the, "Collect it protect it, you only own it till you die" slogan on the mrbottles T-shirts. It is the truth though, isn't it? We only own ‘it' till we die. In the case of one super collector, John Lauber, we only own them until we decide to let them go.

John has always been an enigma to me. John is a VERY nice man to meet. Having asked multiple times to see his collection or even pieces of it and being flatly turned down and/or having asked him permission to photograph bottles he brought to the Milwaukee Antique Bottle and Advertising show and then being told, no way no how, I wondered at his reasoning, logic and motivation. John wanted to share them BUT only with people who paid three bucks to attend the bottle show? For me the opportunity to share information and to inspire other collectors has always been a major component and a driving force of collecting. What is the point of having a treasure if you are the only person who knows? Is it even treasure if you are the only person who knows? Obviously yes, yet the question seem metaphorically linked to if a tree falls in the woods does it make any sound if there is nobody there to hear it? How dark is the cobalt in a bottle buried in a box in a basement with no light or eyes? The point would be and the point is??? After all, the value of treasure is ascribed by society in general or at least by subsets of society, right? Then, I talked to Christina Mericle about Don and his collecting. Don didn't care what anyone thought the value of his objects were, he cared about what they represented in the period of time in the place he held most dear. Don valued what the objects have carried forward for people today and in the future to experience.

Suddenly, I have a greater understanding of John Lauber. John doesn't need me or anyone else to affirm what he values in his collection and he certainly doesn't need the inconvenience of showing his bottles to an upstart bottle junky. John is a private guy who was rumored to have collected three of each extreme rarity... One for each of his son's. Turns out, his sons have little or no interest and he collected for him not them.

The reality is, the sheer magnitude and size of John Lauber's collection make simply showing it to anyone an undertaking all but the most swarthy of collectors would be willing to endure. John has seen his collection, the excitement isn't in displaying or showing it, the excitement is in possessing and squirreling it away from the outside world for eternity. Or is it?

John has made the decision to part with the vast majority of his collection while he is alive and well. While a cynic might call it cashing in, it is the most selfless thing such an advanced collector could do. Imagine it from your perspective.

Having maybe less than one fifth of the time into acquiring, learning, collecting learning, refining my collection and learning, I don't know that I could make the decision to put my collection up for auction and watch it go. My collection is some fifty bottles. Some pieces define points in time of my life, some exemplify the refinement of knowledge and collecting skills. Some are the fulfillment of acquisition quests. A few are the result of hard labor treasure hunts. All are beautiful, colorful pieces of art glass with history that have brightened my mornings that provided a rainbow of color every sunny afternoon. Every piece of my collection has provided countless hours of wonder and fascination.

After holding back on displaying and showing his collection for so many years, John is making up for time lost by allowing other collectors to enjoy the fruits of his decades of experience and collecting aptitude while he is still around for us to discuss with him and thank him.

I for one am grateful for the opportunity to purchase one or two pieces I think are beautiful, historic and representative of one of the greatest Wisconsin antique bottle collections ever amassed. John, I sincerely hope you are willing to take a minute to tell me where they came from and what makes them special from your perspective.

Milwaukee and Wisconsin Antique bottle enthusiasts, I hope to see you at the auction. Thank John for making your collecting dreams come true in 2011 by bidding with steadfast resolve to win. Let's break some sale price records for John! Judging by the few bottles up on the Paul Auction Co. site ( there are enough great bottles we can all fight hard for and leave happy with a few new cornerstones for our collections. GOOD LUCK bidding!

If you do acquire a monumental piece for your collection be sure to make note of where it came from and thank John for making it possible.

LOCATION: Hwy 45 or 28 to Kewaskum, East on Hwy 28 to Hwy "S", then north 1.5 miles to hall.
AUCTIONEER'S NOTE: At long last, John Lauber has decided to part with his extensive collection of over 2,100 Wisconsin beer bottles and other Waukesha advertising items. This will be the largest private collection of WI bottles to ever come up at public, unreserved auction. For most guys, it will also be the first time that his collection has been seen. There are some fantastic pieces in this sale and we're working on getting a complete list together. Please visit closer to the sale date for a complete listing of merchandise.

Charbroiled Brats, Hamburgers & Refreshments

TERMS: Cash or good checks.
Out of state, 2 forms of ID required.
D/L required for bid number.

Mike Paul No 28


LOCATION: Hwy 45 or 28 to Kewaskum, East on Hwy 28 to Hwy "S", then north 1.5 miles to hall.

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